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HPH Weekly: How can a rape kit hackathon lead to better social justice?

Filed Under
Written by
Maryam Zafar
March 7, 2024
Read Time
2 min

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How can a rape kit hackathon lead to better social justice?

Two latex gloved hands hold a black comb as part of a displayed sexual assault evidence kit (rape kit). On the table are a bunch of swabs in a box, small envelopes and labels for clothes.
Eric Gay / AP Photo

While other forensic tools have leapt into the digital age, the rape kit—a ubiquitous but overlooked instrument—remains stuck in the 1970s. Reforming the kit is overdue, argues Pagan Kennedy, author of the forthcoming The Secret History of the Rape Kit. She cites backlogs of untested kits and troubling racial disparities in investigations as just two reasons for a reform effort. Could a hackathon—like the one MIT Media Lab used to give the breast pump a modern-day boost—be the answer?

Senator Chris Murphy on loneliness and social media

Senator Chris Murphy seated and speaking at a panel event.
Kent Dayton / Harvard Chan School

Chris Murphy has made loneliness one of his primary policy issues. The Democratic senator from Connecticut tells HPH Editor-in-Chief Michael Fitzgerald that government inaction regarding social media is one of the culprits behind what Surgeon General Vivek Murthy last year called an “epidemic of loneliness.”

Climate change in Moroccan oases

Aerial photo of the Fint Oasis in southern Morocco: green palm trees, a small water source and clay buildings stand among dry hills and dirt roads.
M’hammed Kilito

As Morocco’s drought enters its sixth year, photographer M’hammed Kilito highlights the challenges water scarcity brings to life across the country’s oases. His ongoing photo project, “Before it’s gone,” showcases poignant images of people whose livelihoods, culture, and day-to-day rituals are upended as the earth around them dries up.

Cutting social media cravings

A female teen in a red plaid hoodie interacts with her phone screen at a train station.
Daria Nepriakhina / Unsplash

More than half of U.S. teenagers say they feel like they’re addicted to their devices. But healthy social media use is possible, say Annie Margaret and Nicholas Hunkins, researchers at University of Colorado Boulder. The authors highlight the challenge of defining “problematic” social media use and discuss a study of a four-week intervention that appeared to decrease social media addiction among college students.

What we’re reading this week

Filed Under
Maryam Zafar
Maryam Zafar is an editorial assistant and reporter at Harvard Public Health.